Friday, November 12, 2021

Aaron Philip Clark's "Under Color of Law"

Aaron Philip Clark is a native of Los Angeles. He is a novelist and screenwriter. A self-described "son of the city," Clark takes pleasure in exploring the many facets of Los Angeles and enjoys hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains.

His most recent novel, Under Color of Law, is inspired by his experiences in the LAPD.

Here Clark dreamcasts an adaptation of the new novel:
Under Color of Law centers on rookie LAPD detective Trevor “Finn” Finnegan, who’s tasked to investigate the murder of Black LAPD recruit Brandon Soledad. As pressure mounts to solve the crime and avoid a PR nightmare, Finn scours the underbelly of a volatile city where power, violence, and race intersect. But it’s Finn’s past as a beat cop that may hold the key to solving Brandon’s murder. The price? The end of Finn’s career…or his life.

As the 2021 Book Pipeline Adaptation contest winner, I’ve given more thought to casting over the last few days. In addition to a cash prize, I’ll be working with a production company to develop Under Color of Law for the big or small screen. Here’s my ideal casting and director for the soon-to-be adaptation.

Trevor “Finn” Finnegan: Kendrick Sampson (Insecure, 2016-2021). Trevor is analytical and highly reflective. The first-person POV allows access to Trevor’s interior in the novel; however, that wouldn’t translate well for a film or TV series. Therefore, the actor would need to convey intelligence, strength, and vulnerability while also being menacing when necessary. Sampson not only embodies these traits but exudes command presence which is necessary when playing a believable cop.

Sarada Rao: Taylour Paige (Zola, 2021). Sarada is Trevor’s long-time friend, who he cares very deeply for. They are forever bonded by a traumatic event in their young lives which drives Trevor to become a police officer. After watching Zola, Paige struck me as an actress with the ability to convey sophistication, class, and even rage, all in a single glance. Like Sarada, Paige is an LA native, which brings another level of authenticity to the story.

Shaun “Pop” Finnegan: Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game, 1998 and Dope, 2015). Pop is Trevor’s father. He’s a retired LAPD sergeant who feels guilty for his actions while wearing the badge for over twenty years. Much to Trevor’s chagrin, Pop has dedicated his time to protesting police abuses and demanding reform. Smith has always had a powerful on-screen presence and would bring an endearment to Pop, matched with the inner turmoil that drives Pop to drink and lash out at Trevor.

Joey Garcia: Michael Trevino (Vampire Diaries, 2009-2017). Joey is Trevor’s former training officer who’s moved to the police academy’s Physical Training division after many citizen complaints. Not only does Trevino exemplify the physicality of Joey Garcia, but the toxic masculinity he exhibited as Tyler Lockwood in Vampire Diaries would be well suited in the role of Joey.

Amanda “Boston” Walsh: Laura Linney (Ozark, 2017-2022 and The Big C, 2010-2013). Amanda Walsh is a detective sergeant in the Scientific Investigation Division. However, her checkered past is bound to catch up with her, and like Trevor, her dark secrets may destroy her career. Walsh is an antagonist, but Linney could humanize her while keeping her propensity for violence just below the surface.

Captain Mitch Beckett: William H. Macy (Shameless, 2011-2021). Captain Beckett is Trevor’s commanding officer while he’s on loan to Pacific Division. As Trevor states, “they’re friendly but not friends.” What makes Macy perfect for the character of Captain Beckett is his ability to capture Beckett’s duality. While Macy’s performance in Edmond (2005) deviated from his previous roles, it showed his range in channeling villainy with charisma, and it’s this duality that endangers Trevor’s life and the Brandon Soledad investigation.

Antoine Fuqua, Director: Fuqua’s work is gritty, character-driven, and fearless. While his Equalizer films (2014 and 2018) are wildly entertaining, he doesn’t allow the plot to overtake character development. As seen in his neo-noir film, Training Day (2001), Fuqua infuses the action-driven narrative with poignant and heartfelt moments that reveal truths about the characters. Fuqua could not only bring Trevor’s story to life, but capture the Los Angeles he inhabits in all its beauty and squalor.
Visit Aaron Philip Clark's website.

--Marshal Zeringue